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Lab Welfare

Lab Welfare

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Published by: gurmeet kaur dhillon on Dec 13, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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here is perhaps no Department orMinistry that deals so exclusively withhuman relations as the LabourMinistry, and that too, largely bypersuasion and introspection ratherthan coercion. It does have theresponsibility of enforcing laws thatrelate to employment and industrialrelations, but its role in this field toois not punitive, but one of vigil andprosecution before a court of law.11.2It does not need manyarguments or adducing of evidence toprove that the health of the economyof the country, and consequently, thedaily life of the common people aswell as the elite depends uponharmony in industrial relations. It isdifficult, therefore, to over-state theimportance of good industrialrelations. It is not often realized thateven the defence of the frontiers orthe internal security of the countrydepends ultimately on a viable andefficient economy, and this, in turn,depends on industrial relations. Thereis no reason to think that themaintenance of good industrialrelations which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour is lessimportant than the responsibilitythat any other Ministry holds.Unfortunately, this realization has notbeen very much in evidence. Perhapsthe reasons for this are:(a)A perception, which sees theMinistry more as related to thewelfare of labour, and apaternalistic attitude.(b)The fact that the performance othe Ministry of Labour is notquantifiable.These attitudes miss the crucial roleof industrial relations as the fulcrumon which the efficiency of theeconomy rests and turns.11.3Those who lead and ‘man’ theMinistry should therefore, have thehighest degree of competence,vision, empathy, tact, skill in thearts of persuasion and inducingintrospection, and activating
socialand group consciences. We, therefore,think that these considerations
should govern the choice of theMinister as well as the top echelonsof the bureaucracy that bearresponsibility for the functioning of theMinistry. They should also,
mutatis mutandis 
, govern the recruitment andplacement of officers and staff atevery level, and every department of the Ministry.11.4In the field also, officers mustbe invested with sufficient authority toattract due deference and compliance,and should be provided with adequateinfrastructural facilities that theyrequire to carry out their arduous work over far-flung areas. In the course of our tours to hear evidence, we werestruck by the total inadequacy of thesefacilities. Many officers told us thatthey had to work from offices thatwere apologies
for rooms, withinadequate and shoddy furniture. Theywere expected to receive managers of industries and leaders of trade unionorganizations in such rooms. Often theunseemly conditions of the officemade officers of managerial levels orhigh-level leaders of trade unionsreluctant to answer calls and attenddiscussions in such ramshackle offices,housed in dirty buildings that belongedto others. The officials of the LabourDepartment/Ministry were hamstrungto the point of being crippled bythe absence of transport andtelephone facilities. During our visit tovarious State capitals, we wereinformed that the Chandigarhregion of the Central IndustrialRelations Machinery (CIRM), whichcomprises the States of Haryana,Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, J&K andthe Union Territory of Chandigarh, hasonly two vehicles, one at Chandigarhand another at Jammu and this madeit difficult for officers to travel, visitplaces on duty, either to nip disputesin the bud
or deal with emergingsituations of dispute and conflict. Thealternative was to borrow transportfrom the very people whose conductthe officer was expected to inspect.We were told that in many cases thiswas what was being done. We neednot comment on the credibilitythat this kind of dependence createsin the minds of leaders of enterprisesor trade unions. We do not want tosuggest that this situation isallowed to continue by connivance.But we do not believe that those whohave the responsibility of correctingthe situation and generating thecredibility, without which officerscannot discharge quasi-judicialfunctions or functions of vigilance, areunaware of what is happening in the
field. We cannot understand how fieldofficers of this kind can functionwithout instruments of communicationor mobility. We will, therefore,strongly recommend that officers of the Labour Department should beprovided with offices, infrastructureand facilities commensurate with thefunctions they have, and the dignitythey should have.11.5Labour Administration meanspublic administration activities totranslate the national labour policyinto action. As we have said earlier,labour policy in India draws inspirationand strength partly from the ideas anddeclarations of important nationalleaders during the freedom struggle,partly from the debates in theConstituent Assembly, partly from theprovisions of the Constitution, andpartly from International Conventionsand Recommendations. It has alsobeen significantly influenced by thedeliberations of the various sessionsof the Indian Labour Conference andthe recommendations of variousNational Committees andCommissions, such as, the RoyalCommission on Labour, the NationalCommission on Labour 1969, theNational Commission on Rural Labour1991, and the like.11.6India has ratified a total of 39Conventions adopted at differentsessions of the InternationalLabour Organisation. These includeconventions on hours of work,unemployment, night work, minimumwages, weekly rest, workers’ compensation, forced labour, labourinspection, child labour, undergroundwork and equal remuneration for menand women for work of a similarnature. We are appending a list of the39 Conventions, as Appendix I at theend of this Chapter.11.7With growth in the dimensionsand variety of industrial activity andchanges in the agricultural sector, thetask of labour administration hasbecome increasingly difficult. It callsfor comprehension, sensitivity,expedition and efficiency at everystage. To enable industries to becompetitive in the present context,and at the same time to protectthe rights of workers, labouradministration has to provide anindustrial relations system, whichinduces the adoption of anew mindset and participatoryculture including the developmentof appropriate skills. On theenforcement side, labour adminis-tration has to ensure effectiveenforcement of labour laws.

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